Net Neutrality Battle: What it Means for Content Providers

Today, many companies like Netflix have decided to display a constant “loading” button on their site as a display of their opposition to the new rules that the government is considering to wage war against Net Neutrality.

As the internet currently works today, every website is on equal playing ground for how fast the content is delivered to your screen. Net Neutrality means that the cable/telecommunications companies have to provide us everyone with open networks. Further they should not block any applications or content that use the networks. Cable companies would like to change all that.

Net Neutrality is what has made the Internet so fantastic. It has given voices and platforms to bloggers like you and me. Net Neutrality is what gives startups the same chance to reach customers and users as any existing company. Without Net Neutrality, startups and other small business will be discriminated against based on a pay-to-play Internet system.

Cable giants like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon have long been lobbying politicians to change the way the Internet works. Comcast spent $18 million last year lobbying politicians (source: Center for Responsive Politics). Essentially, they want to create a two-tiered Internet, with slow lanes (for most of us) and fast lanes (for wealthy corporations that are willing pay fees in exchange for fast service).

Cable companies would have the power to discriminate against online content and applications — they could shake sites down for fees and block content for political reasons (wait – doesn’t this sound like what happens in socialist and communist countries?), and make it easier for Internet users to view cable content. (For instance, Comcast owns NBC, and so has incentives to make it easier to view NBC content than that of other providers.)

On May 15, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission proposed rules that would permit rampant discrimination online, undermining Net Neutrality. The FCC’s proposal would be a huge boon for the cable companies and would undermine the Internet as we know it. Incidentally, Tom Wheeler, who has been selected as the chair of the FCC is a former top lobbyist for cable companies. Insidious much? According to comedian, John Oliver, “That is the equivalent of needing a babysitter an hiring a Dingo.” The cable companies are powerful and vicious and they won’t back down. Neither can we.

*Adapted in part from posts by Free Press Action Fund and others.

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